Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What happened to progressive American Music?

I think two things killed the progressive spirit of American music.

  1. The Arnold Schoenberg Institute leaving America.
  2. Pierre Boulez replacing Leonard Bernstein at the NY Philharmonic.

The first one is direct -not here no influence. The Second one is indirect.  

In the American mind Bernstein can not be replaced.


That it would be by Boulez was a strategic blunder for progressive music because this led to musical-political tensions that still remain.  It did not matter how great Boulez was as a composer, or as a conductor, Boulez didn't actually replace Bernstein as a composer.  In the game he trumped an American Icon, and as imaginary as that is, it is also how the game played out.  

Oddly, Boulez was not that interested in American Serial Music preferring to perform the European composers, or the leading American composers of other styles. 

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